I have often wrestled with the advice to “Stay present” and ignore the past (you can’t change it) as well as the future (it isn’t here yet). My monkey mind cries out “How am I going to learn anything if I ignore the past?” followed by “How can I make a better future without worrying about it ?” Rock, meet hard place.
After wiggling there for years, some light started to appear. Maybe there is a difference between “Thought” and “Worry”. There is, and it is all the difference in the world.
What struck me standing next to Rodin’s “Thinker” atop the granite pedestal is that gravel and green garden in Paris was how calm he looked. The visitors picked up on this and a hush fell over the crowds as they approached. There is not a trace of worry in him.
Productive thought is accompanied by calm, intensity, curiosity, open-mindedness, confidence, empathy, presence, passion, humility, gratitude, fascination, focus, and yes even joy. Thought is a precursor to right action.
Worry is accompanied by irritation, hostility, annoyance, frustration, agitation, closed-mindedness, fear of failure, distrust, scepticism, randomness, pride, despair and yes even misery. Worry is aimless recursive wallowing without a plan of action.
Thinking about the past, present and future when directed toward right action is very useful. Worry without direction is a waste of time and effort.
Don’t worry. Think.